Ringing In The Ear

Ringing In The Ear: Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Have you experienced ringing in the ear? It is a common problem that you can encounter at any point in your life. The problem also referred to as tinnitus causes ringing, buzzing, clicking, hissing or swishing type of noise. The noise or sound seems to originate in your head or ear. A majority of the population around the world have experienced the condition for at least five minutes. It is not a severe health condition, which can lead to other complications. But, it is an annoying condition that may come and go.

In some people, the issue can affect their daily activities. It limits them from performing their daily tasks. In such cases, you need to seek medical assistance. With proper medical care, you can manage the condition effectively. For severe cases of tinnitus, you require surgical intervention. With effective treatment, you can prevent the ringing in the ear from affecting the quality of your life.

Symptoms Of Ringing In The Ear

Symptoms Of Ringing In The Ear Apart from hearing ringing noises in your ear, you can also experience different symptoms. So, when you suffer from tinnitus, you can experience different varieties of phantom noises like:

  • Buzzing
  • Ringing
  • Clicking
  • Roaring
  • Humming
  • Hissing

The ghost noises may vary in pitch. Therefore, it can range from small roar to high-pitched squeal. You can hear the ringing in one or both your ears. The sensation can interfere with your ability to hear other extreme sound or your ability to concentrate. It can affect you all the time or it may come and go as it wishes. Though the problem can never cause life-threatening complication, it affects the quality of your life. You can feel it controlling your ability to live a happy and peaceful life.

Types Of Ringing In The Ear

Depending on the root cause of the problem, you can classify the ringing in the ear into two major types. The kinds of tinnitus are:

Subjective Tinnitus

It is the common type of tinnitus that only you can experience and hear. Your doctor cannot hear the ringing in your ear. The issues in your inner, middle or outer ear can cause the problem. In some cases, the problem to the auditory (hearing) nerves can cause the problem. The damage or issues in the part of the brain that has the auditory pathways can also trigger the issue. So, the problem can cause issues in your brain interpreting the nerve signals properly.

Objective Tinnitus

It is a rare problem that occurs due to the issues in blood vessels in your ear, muscle contractions or even a middle ear bone condition. During the condition, a doctor examining your ear can hear the ringing.

Causes Of Ringing In The Ear

Ringing in the ear is not a disease in itself. But, it is a problem that occurs due to some other underlying health condition. Any problem affecting your hearing system or brain can lead to the condition. Therefore, it is the reflection of something wrong with the brain or your hearing. The most common causes of the problem are:

Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

It is the most common cause of ringing sensation in your ears. The cochlea is the area in your ear that enables people to hear properly. Certain conditions like advancing age, trauma to the ear due to chemicals, drugs, or noise can affect cochlea. The damage on the specific part can lead to the condition. It is due to the fact that the cochlea fails to send normal signals to the brain due to its damage. So, the brain develops its own noise to make up for the lack of signals to the brain. The sounds generated due to the confusion of the brain results in tinnitus. It is the type of condition that becomes worse when your hearing becomes worse. Therefore, problems like ear infections or accumulation of ear wax can trigger the condition.



When you suffer trauma to the ear, it can result in ringing in the ear. You can experience the problem in both your ears. It is because of the fact that your ears are exposed to the same conditions. Both ears hear the same noises, get exposed to drugs or other issues alike.

Exposure To Loud Noise

Your ears are sensitive to loud noises. So, exposure to loud noises can result in tinnitus. The overexposure to loud noises can result in hearing loss. But, many people are unaware of the harmful effects of excessive loud noises. The loud noise produced by high-intensity music, firearms or other sources can lead to the ringing sensation in your ears. It is one of the common reasons that lead to hearing loss.


Overuse of aspirin or the use of medications like quinine and aminoglycoside antibiotics, which fights infection in your body can trigger tinnitus. Certain medications can cause tinnitus as side effects. More than two hundred drugs have known to cause a ringing sensation in your ears.

Meniere’s disease

It is the disease that causes a problem in your ear itself. You can suffer from tinnitus as a sign that indicates the problem. Along with tinnitus, the problem also causes dizziness, hearing loss for a short period of time, and feeling of fullness in the ears.

Acoustic Neuroma

Acoustic Neuroma
Photo By: BruceBlaus/ CC BY

It is a rare cause that leads to ringing in the ear. The growth of a tumor on the nerves that facilitates your hearing can also cause tinnitus. It is one of the rare causes of subjective tinnitus. Acoustic neuroma affects only one ear. While other causes can affect both ears, the type of brain tumor affects only one ear.

Pulsatile tinnitus

It is a condition occurring due to the problems in the blood flow in your ear. Abnormal or normal blood vessels can trigger the problem. It mainly affects women who are pregnant. The condition is also prevalent among anemic people, overactive thyroid gland or tumor growth on the blood vessels near the ear. Pulsatile tinnitus also occurs when you suffer a condition known as benign intracranial hypertension. It is the condition that increases the pressure of the fluid inside your brain.

TMJ Misalignment

The issues in the muscles of your muscles in the throat or ear can lead to clicking type noise in your ear. It is the objective type of tinnitus that causes ringing in the ear.

Diagnosis Of Ringing In The Ear

It is important to detect the actual issue that causes the problem. It will help your doctor determine the right treatment plan to manage the situation well. For better management of the signs and symptoms, you need to consult your doctor can perform the following diagnostic test to reveal the actual cause triggering the problem.

Physical Assessment

The physical assessment is the first test, your doctor performs to detect the issue. So, the doctor examines your head, neck, and ear to find the actual issue causing tinnitus. Based on the assessment, your doctor can suggest other tests.

Audiological Exam

Audiological Exam

Also referred to as a hearing exam, it detects your hearing ability you need to sit in a soundproof room for the test. The earphones you wear can play different sounds in your ear, which you need to detect. Once you detect the sound, you have to indicate it. The results can offer comprehensive information on your ability to hear. It is mostly compared with the normal hearing results for your age. The tests can help detect the problem or rule out the issues leading to the ringing in the ear.

Movement Test

Your doctor asks you to move your neck, arms, or neck, your doctor can ask you to clench your jaws and move your eyes. Depending on the severity of the problem, your doctor can see changes in the movement. The change of the condition or its worsening can help your doctor identify the actual problem leading to the condition. So, depending on the condition, you can get proper treatment.

Imaging Tests

Imaging Tests

The problems in the blood vessels in your ear can cause the ringing in the ear. So, your doctor can suggest sophisticated imaging tests. It can detect structural problems and other possible causes that can cause tinnitus. The tests like MRI scans or CT scans can help your doctor come to a precise conclusion. The clear image of your ear can help detect the problem with ease.

Treatment Options For Ringing In The Ear

The treatment for the ringing in the ear can vary depending on the underlying health issue. Therefore, after the careful analysis, your doctor can suggest the ideal solution. The issue may vary from simple wax accumulation in the ear to the abnormal blood vessels in your ear. Your doctor also determines if any medication triggers the issue. In such cases, your doctor switches the prescriptions with other alternatives that will restore your normal hearing. Therefore, you have the following options available for overcoming the problem:

Drug Therapy

Medications do not offer a cure for tinnitus. But, the drugs can suppress the signs and symptoms associated with the condition. It reduces the sound you hear in your ears. The common drugs used in the therapy are the anti-anxiety medications and tricyclic antidepressants. In most cases, the doctors can prescribe nortriptyline and amitriptyline offers you relief from the severe symptoms associated with the conditions. It lessens the sounds you hear in your ear and stop the annoying issue to an extent. But, it comes with several side-effects like

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Blurry vision
  • Constipation

In some patients, the medication can trigger heart problems. Remember, drug therapy may never for all patients alike.

Hearing Aids

Hearing Aids

Accessories like hearing aid can offer relief to people suffering from ringing in the ear. The hearing aid can amplify the sound and offer better hearing. It is beneficial for people who have trouble hearing the normal sound due to ringing or clicking feeling in the ears.

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)

It is the types of treatment that uses cognitive behavioral therapy along with a masking device to ignore the background noises. So, you can ignore the ringing noise in your ears effectively.

Noise Suppression Machines

Noise suppression machines can offer a reprieve from the problem. It is another treatment option that can reduce the buzzing, ringing, or roaring noise. The machines can offer you relaxing noise that masks your ringing sounds in your ears. The masking device looks similar to the hearing aid, which you can insert in your ear to find relief.

Noise Generating Machines

Noise Generating Machines

Now you may get confused about why you need a noise-generating machine. The ringing in the ear can worsen when you stay in a quiet place. You feel severe anxiety and cause trouble for you. Therefore, the noise generating machine can produce background noise to overcome the complete silence. It helps you stay in a quiet place or bathe in a room while ignoring the clicking or ringing sensation in your ears.

Lifestyle Changes

Apart from the treatment options, you can make some lifestyle changes. Stress is one of the main issues that trigger anxiety and subsequent ringing in your ears. Though stress does not trigger the condition, it can worsen the signs. So, you need to take steps to reduce stress from your life. Talk to an expert or a close friend about the concern you have. By reducing stress, you can handle the condition better.

Alternative Medicines To Combat Ringing In The Ear

Certain alternative therapies can offer relief from the ringing in the ear. So, methods like acupuncture, homeopathy, hypnosis or meditation can provide you relief. The alternative medications offer relief from symptoms slowly. So, you may see positive effects only after completing several sessions. People who do not find relief for the condition with allopathy medication often opt the alternative methods to manage the condition. Other remedies are also available that helps you suppress the dull humming, loud roaring, echoing, or other symptoms.

Coping And Support To Deal With Ringing In The Ear

You need to understand that the ringing in the ear will never go away completely even with proper treatment and care. You have to take steps to live with the problem. Therefore, the following suggestion can help you cope with the issue.

Undergo Counseling

You need to see a licensed therapist or a psychologist handle the annoying problem from affecting your life negatively. The coping techniques suggested by the professionals can make the symptoms associated with tinnitus less bothersome. The counseling also addresses issues like depression and anxiety that stems from tinnitus. Therefore, guidance from professionals with expertise can help you handle the condition better.

Support Groups

You can share your experience with other people who suffer from the ringing in the ear. When you talk to others about the issue, it can lighten your mind. You can join the support groups of people with a similar issue online or in person. Several forum available online and offline help you obtain valuable information about the problem. The accurate analysis of the problem in the group discussion can help you deal with it better. Try to find a group facilitated by a qualified professional like an audiologist, physician or other health care professional who deals with such issues. It provides the necessary information needed to handle the problem well.

Gather Valuable Information

You need to gather as much information as possible about the ringing in the ear. It will help you detect the ways that help alleviate the symptoms. The valuable knowledge about tinnitus can aid you in taking steps that make the problem less bothersome.

Preventing Ringing In The Ear

Can you prevent tinnitus from affecting your life? It is possible with simple yet effective steps. So, the following steps can help you prevent the issue.

Protect Your Ears

You can protect your ears from the loud noises by keeping a close eye on the volume levels of personal music player, radio, or television. While using headphones, make sure you control the volume levels to protect your ear.

Ear Protection Accessories

Ear Protection Accessories

For noise louder than 85 decibels, you need to use accessories that can protect your ear. 85 decibels is the noise level associated as average. It does not cause any harm. If you work as a musician or in construction, you become subjected to noise levels higher than 85 decibels. So, it puts you at risk of tinnitus. Use earplugs or cover your ears completely while working in such conditions.

Avoid Medications Worsening The Condition

Certain medications you take for your health problem can worsen the ringing in the ear. So, you can feel the symptoms associated with tinnitus recurring. In such cases, you need to schedule regular testing that detects your hearing with your doctor. A medical professional can detect any issues associated with an inner or middle ear that leads to the condition promptly. Therefore, you can get prompt and effective treatment to prevent the condition.


You can become frustrated with the ringing in the ear as you become unsure about what to do next. It leaves you feeling overwhelmed and helpless. But, you can manage the condition effectively by getting help from your professional health care provider. You need to talk about your problem to a hearing care professional to get apt treatment. It is better to seek assistance from a professional who specializes in treating tinnitus. With the specialized care and treatment offered by the medical team, you can manage the symptoms. Therefore, you can get relief and regain the quality of your life with proper treatment.

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